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Pandemic fighters make ultimate sacrifice

By WANG RU | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-04-17 07:38

Liu Zhiming, president of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital in Hubei province, worked tirelessly to fight COVID-19.

When Liu's hospital was designated as one of the seven hospitals for the pandemic treatment in Wuhan on Jan 21, he immediately led his colleagues in restructuring the hospital and tried to prepare more beds for patients, working for nearly 72 hours without a real break.

"One bed equals one life, if we can prepare one more bed, we would save one more life," said Liu.

After long hours and ceaseless work, Liu was infected and diagnosed with COVID-19. Even when lying on the hospital bed, he was still busy calling his colleagues to learn about their state of health, arranging work and inquiring about the patients.

His wife Cai Liping applied to go to the hospital to take care of him, but he refused since he knew that, as a nurse, she also had many patients to look after.

Liu died of novel coronavirus pneumonia on Feb 18. That day, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his condolences for Liu's death on Twitter, saying "doctor Liu Zhiming touched and saved numerous lives in the COVID-19 outbreak".

Medical workers have been tremendously devoted to that goal. Xia Sisi, a 29-year-old doctor, did not have enough time to bid farewell to her 2-year-old son. Her fellow doctor Peng Yinhua would never see his unborn child.

According to Ding Xiangyang, deputy secretary-general of the State Council, more than 3,000 medical workers in Hubei had been infected with the novel coronavirus as of March 6.

But they are not the only group of people who have made great contributions in the fight against the pandemic. Many have been working hard in other areas as well.

Traffic control was vital, especially inside Hubei province, the region hit hardest in China. Traffic police officer Zheng Yong was committed to his task in Nanzhang county, Xiangyang city, Hubei and worked solidly for many days without break before the Lunar New Year.

On Lunar New Year's Eve on Jan 24, Zheng was on duty with two other auxiliary police officers, manning a police booth in Nanzhang. He told his colleagues to go back home and enjoy their family reunion dinners, and he patrolled the street by himself. He fell unwell with stomachache and went to a local hospital, where he was attached to an intravenous drip.

When Zheng's wife hurried to see him in the hospital, he told her not to worry about him and that he would go back to work after the drip. However, his condition soon worsened, and the next day he fell into a coma due to acute liver failure.

Eleven days later, on Feb 5, the 41-year-old police officer died.

"Police are supposed to serve people. We should be strict in law enforcement and be warm in providing a service," Zheng often said at work.

Working as a policeman for 24 years, he loved and devoted himself to his career. His wife Zhong Haili says: "He worked as a police officer for most of his life, but I know he never felt tired of the work, he wanted to do more."

Zheng's peers Yin Zuchuan, Cheng Jianyang and He Jianhua have also worked selflessly for the benefit of people during this hard time. Though they come from different places, they made the same decision to fulfill their duties.

Veteran grassroots official Li Zengyun worked on the front line as well. Since the end of January, the 67-year-old worked as deputy head of a team to prevent and control the epidemic of Chengyang village, Hebei. He was responsible for registering the situations of 96 families, distributing prevention leaflets to villagers and coordinating sanitation workers to ensure the cleaning and disinfection of the village.

For over 20 days, Li followed a very busy schedule. He did disinfection work with sanitation workers at 6:30 am, reminded villagers about prevention measures over the radio at 8 am, went to the homes of the quarantined to check their temperatures and comfort them at 9 am. He also actively applied to be on duty at a monitoring station to check cars going into and out of the village.

On Feb 13, Li was on duty until 4 am, when he was persuaded by his colleagues to go home and have a rest, but he returned at 9 am. By noon, he was feeling uncomfortable and was urged to go home and rest. He went to sleep and never woke up.

"He asked me to wake him for lunch, and said he had a lot of work to do in the afternoon, but he passed away in his sleep. In the last moments of his life, he was still considering the health and security of the villagers," says Li Zengyun's son Li Zhanhua.

Grassroots officials have been incredibly busy. In many villages and counties all over China, Li's peers like Qin Hong and Liao Jianjun have been devoted to serving local people, and they made joint efforts to protect people in the whole country.

On April 2, Liu, together with 13 others who sacrificed their lives on the front line, were recognized posthumously as martyrs by the government of Hubei, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Zheng was conferred as a second-degree heroic model in the public security system by the Ministry of State Security of China.

Their contributions and spirit will be remembered. Wang Bin, son of grassroots official Wang Yongtian who sacrificed his life, has carried on the mission of his father.

"The fight has not ended yet. I want to finish what my father started, so that he will rest in peace," said Wang Bin.

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